Cause of fire at Anthracite Industries undetermined
UPPER AUGUSTA TOWNSHIP - A state police fire marshal wasn't able to determine what started a fire Tuesday night that destroyed a piece of machinery and damaged walls at Anthracite Industries.
Township Assistant Fire Chief Matt Billman said fire marshal Kirk Renn was on scene Wednesday for about two hours.
"There were a couple of variables that we looked at, but we couldn't pinpoint an exact cause," Billman said.
Tim Hendricks, general manager at the plant, said the "pulverizing machine" that was destroyed represents less than 5 percent of Anthracite Industries' processing capability; the plant was in operation Wednesday morning.
He said the machine was destroyed, but the company is insured for the loss. The machine is used for one of the plant's specialty products.
Fire from the machine spread to and damaged several interior and exterior walls. It is not considered suspicious.
Firefighters were called to the plant at 8:02 p.m. Tuesday and had the fire knocked down quickly. The plant does not have a hydrant on the grounds, so firefighters had to set up a portable pond. They were prepared to go to a nearby sportsmen's club to access water, but the initial supply from tankers was enough to douse the flames, Billman said.
"The fire departments did an outstanding job putting out the fire quickly," Hendricks said. "Upper Augusta Township and the neighboring fire companies did a great job."
Per regulations, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration was contacted within 15 minutes of the fire. Hendricks said MSHA has been in contact with the company, but he is not sure if the agency will conduct an investigation. The company has been asked to forward a copy of the fire marshal's report to MSHA, he said.